Earth Day_image

I’ve thought about writing a blog for a long time. Who hasn’t? By a “long time” I mean something on the order of five-to-seven years. I had a blog in college, but it lacked focus. It was just a loose collection of self-reflective posts and observations about my family. I’m sure that one of my writing professors would have said that most of it was probably better suited for a diary. He would have been absolutely right.

Why write a blog now?

So why am I writing a blog now? For one, I have more focus. In college I knew a lot about what I could do, but I didn’t really know why I wanted to do it. The past seven years have provided the opportunity for me to reflect on my interests and develop deeper insight into what I find interesting, why I’m interested in those things, and how they could be useful to other people.

Doing it Learning in public

Learning is my favorite hobby. It’s like a meta-hobby for all of my other hobbies. During the past year, I’ve thought about what would be the best way to document my learning process. I tried a bullet journal, and that lasted a few weeks. I used a traditional journal, but I prefer to use that space for organizing my thoughts, concepting ideas, and reflection (i.e., it’s more like a diary). And I tried using a note taking app to simply write about my process, but the flow didn’t feel quite right.

What I discovered is that once I learn something, I almost immediately move to the next thing on my learning backlog. I internalize what I’ve learned, integrate it into my preexisting knowledge, and then I drive on to the next thing. This strikes me as a waste for at least two reasons.

First, I believe that teaching validates learning. Writing a blog gives me the opportunity to teach and to make my process intelligible to other people (which is always a lot harder than it seems). By not codifying what I’ve learned and sharing it, I’m missing out on the opportunity to further solidify my own understanding.

Second, by not creating an personal history of learning, I have no archive to use for reflection on my previous year. Knowledge builds on itself, like bricks. I’m reminded of what Annie Dillard says about reading:

“There is no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by. A life of good days lived in the senses is not enough. The life of sensation is the life of greed; it requires more and more. The life of the spirit requires less and less; time is ample and its passage sweet. Who would call a day spent reading a good day? But a life spent reading — that is a good life.”

(Annie Dillard, The Writing Life)

I think the same could be said of learning: Who would call a day spent learning a good day? Aren’t there other things to life—family, friends, cooking, nature? But a life honed by learning is one that can appreciate the good gifts of life in their depth and splendor. Furthermore, it’s more blessed to give than to receive. Learning is a form of receiving. Teaching is about giving. By learning, I receive knowledge, understanding, and competence. In writing about what I’ve learned, I freely share whatever knowledge I’ve gained.

A few years ago, I was introduced to a prolific visual design agency called Moment Factory. They do incredible projection mapping work for concerts, flagship stores, and cities. (If you haven’t seen their work, I highly recommend that you check them out). Their slogan is “We do it in public.” I love their slogan because it’s brash, slightly irreverent, and totally captures their design ethos. Whereas the goal of most design is to be invisible, everything they do is meant to be seen in public, and they make it a point to emphasize that fact. I admire that.

With this in view, I’ve decided to blog to do it learn in public.

Scroll to Top